For Sprint, T-Mobile and other regional carriers, this is great news, as it gives them the chance to purchase some of the spectrum that will allow them to strengthen their network. The auction is slated for mid-2015 and will be the first opportunity in years for wireless carriers to buy the low-frequency airwaves that are considered 'beachfront' property of radio spectrum due to their reach and strength.
The rules set on Thursday would reserve up to 30 megahertz of spectrum in each market for bidding by non-nationwide carriers or companies with less than one-third of low-band spectrum in that market.
The reserve would kick in after the auction raises enough spectrum and revenue to help fund a new $7 billion public safety network and pay back TV stations, which would volunteer to relinquish airwaves for wireless carriers to buy in the auction.
AT&T and Verizon argued the plan would be unfair and could complicate the auction, as well as limit the amount of money the FCC would ultimately raise. The auction will set aside 30 megahertz of spectrum in each market.
Sprint shares rose 6 percent and T-Mobile shares rose up 1.3 percent following the news.